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Warning over measles danger after University Hospital Galway case

The Health Service Executive has declined to reveal if anybody else caught measles after being exposed to a patient in UHG’s Emergency Department with the highly contagious viral infection.

The HSE issued an advisory for members of the public to be alert to symptoms the next three weeks if they attended the ED between Sunday, March 3, at 9pm and Monday, March 4, up to 5pm. That means symptoms could develop up until Monday, March 25.

Symptoms of measles include cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough, sore red eyes, a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above and a rash, which usually appears on head and neck first and spreads to rest of body.

People who develop these symptoms, are advised to seek medical advice but phone ahead prior to attending any healthcare setting so that arrangements to prevent potential further spread to others can be made.

The Connacht Tribune understands that the teenage patient was so ill they had to be treated in the Intensive Care Unit.

Last month, a man in his forties from Westmeath died in the first confirmed case to be notified to authorities in Ireland this year.

This was the first death from measles in the State in more than two decades.

Asked to let the public know if further cases of the measles had been confirmed following the case in the ED, a spokesperson for the HSE said it could not comment on individual cases.

“To do so might reveal information in relation to identifiable individuals, breaching the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality,” she stated.

A third case of measles confirmed in Ireland on Tuesday with the latest Weekly Infectious Disease Report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre revealing there were seven suspected cases of measles, which have not been confirmed by laboratory tests.

HSE Public Health asked passengers who travelled on and Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which arrived on Saturday, March 9 at 6:30am, to contact HSE after a confirmed case of measles travelled on this flight.

The HSE Measles National Incident Management Team was set up in response to a recent rise in measles cases in the UK and Europe.

“The HSE will keep the public informed of further measures as required and, in the meantime, anyone with concerns should contact their GP.”

The health agency urged people to check their vaccination records if preparing to travel overseas for the Ester holidays to make sure they have the recommended MMR vaccines which protect against measles. MMR vaccines protect against measles, mumps and rubella.

“The HSE is finalising plans for the roll out of a proactive MMR vaccine catch-up programme in response to a rise in measles case in the UK and Europe.”

This catch-up programme will prioritise children and young adults, healthcare workers and “underserved” groups such as refugees, applicants seeking protection and the homeless community as uptake rates are currently lower in these groups.

People born in Ireland before 1978 are likely to have been exposed to measles as children are unlikely to require MMR vaccine.

The MMR vaccine uptake in Ireland is below the WHO recommended target of 95% uptake, which is required to prevent measles circulating.

Over 300,000 people will be offered a measles catch-up vaccine.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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